If 2017 were a car, it would be a Yugo.
If it were an NFL team, it would be the Cleveland Browns.
If it were a song, it would be "Sugar, Sugar" by The Archies.
If it were a person, it would be a Kardashian.
If it were ... well, you get the idea here. The year wasn't a great one, either nationally or in Louisiana, where our politicians once again proved we aren't really ready for self-government.
Our Legislature began to resemble Congress ... and not in a good way.
Superintendent of State Police and warden at Angola were the two best jobs in the state — until they weren't.
Despite the new president's rather, uh, turbulent first year and an abysmal national approval rating, Louisiana still appears to be Trump country. This has led several officeholders and office-seekers to embrace his views. Attorney General Jeff Landry has earned the title of "Trump Lite" in Louisiana. But playing the Trump card doesn't always work. Angele Davis did everything but change her name to "Donna Trump," but finished third in the state treasurer's race.
LaToya Cantrell was elected New Orleans' first female mayor — and demonstrated her solidarity with working class voters by having credit card troubles.
With the women of America launching their "No Country for Creepy Old Men" initiative, Louisiana folks were glad our state's most famous sex scandal ended with the last governor's race.
As usual, I've chronicled some events of the past year by going through Advocate front pages for quotes and stories that reflect the year. And it's not pretty. ...
But before we get into the discouraging words, let's review the year's "good news" stories:
1. Tom and Gayle Benson are bringing a Dixie Beer brewery back to the New Orleans area, with its original formula that made it a Yat favorite in years past.
2. The U.S. Geological Survey shows land loss in Louisiana has slowed from a football field of land every hour to a football field every 100 minutes.
3. Baton Rouge's legendary Istrouma High School's reopening was marked by the ringing of the "hot doughnuts" bell at the north Baton Rouge Krispy Kreme shop by Istrouma Principal Reginald Douglas.
4. The 10-foot-tall metal giraffe stolen from in front of Bob and Vi's Lounge in Lafayette was found a mile away in a sugar cane field and returned to its owners.
And here is our Good News Quote of the Year:
"When we do these onions and the aroma of this good Cajun meat gets up in the air, people are coming." — Stephen Ashford, one of the volunteers from Central cooking in Pasadena, Texas, after Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area
That's the good news. ... Now for the rest:
McDonald's Freeway over Walmart Bridge
"Private investors have their eyes on Louisiana and are eager to invest here." — Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson, on tapping private sources to help the state's $13 billion backlog of roads and bridges
Play nice, Jeff
"He doesn't seem to understand that policing is a partnership." — New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, on Attorney General Jeff Landry setting up a task force to fight New Orleans crime. (The crime-busting effort was quietly abandoned a few months after it started. A federal judge said Landry's agents had no authority to make arrests in Orleans Parish.)
Can inmates make plaques?
"I think I should get a plaque. ..." — former Angola Warden Burl Cain, about his accomplishments getting short shrift due to reports that he benefited from free state labor and other goodies
What happens in Vegas. ...
After a group of State Police officers were found to have taken an 11-day side trip at taxpayer expense to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon while driving to a law enforcement conference in San Diego, it was first reported that no text messages from troopers could be found, and State Police head Mike Edmonson was unaware of their activities. (This was later found to be not exactly the case).
"The Civil War is over." — New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, after a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was removed from Lee Circle
Plenty of nothing
"We just witnessed an epic failure in leadership." — Gov. John Bel Edwards, after the regular session of the Legislature ended with no state budget approved
"I'm disappointed that D.C. politics is preventing bipartisan bills from passing. Hopefully, we can come together as a body to do our jobs." — state Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma
"It concerns me that we seem to be without a rudder." — Rosemary Upshaw Ewing, of the Louisiana State Museum Board, after interim director Tim Chester quit, accusing Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser of commandeering museum property for his own use and inserting himself into day-to-day operations
Just kinda sinister
"While Louisiana is the incarceration capital of the world, I refuse to believe that our people are inherently more sinister than those in any other parts of the world." — Gov. Edwards, calling for a reduction in the state's prison population by at least 13 percent
Well, almost all. ...
"All pumps operating." — New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board's reply to the city's emergency operations center during the Aug. 5 flooding. It was found that 15 of 120 pumps were not operating.
"I need a little more. Pour me a little more. A little more. Perfect. So, 2016 was awful. ..." — "CNN Tonight" anchor Don Lemon, downing tequila during the network's New Year's Eve coverage from the Spotted Cat in New Orleans. (Note: He's coming back this year.)
Ignorance of the law. ...
U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., has voted in line with Trump 93 percent of the time, but he found himself branded an "opponent" after he quizzed a Trump nominee for a federal judgeship and revealed that the nominee had never made an argument in a courtroom, never tried a case, and struggled to define basic legal terms.
So much for Cassidycare
"We don't have the votes." — U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., about the failure of the bill he sponsored with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R.-S.C., to replace the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare"
U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre, won election as a tough-talking "Cajun John Wayne," but in one statement he channeled Liam Neeson in the "Taken" movies: "Not a single radicalized Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter. Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identify them, and kill them."
He's our kinda guy
State Rep. Kenny Havard, R-St. Francisville, who once "joked" about requiring strippers to be younger than 28 and weigh less than 160 pounds, received a "Family Advocate" award from the Louisiana Family Forum. Gene Mills, the Family Forum president, said he appreciated Havard's sense of humor.
Just another comedian
"I found all that deplorable, reprehensible, disgusting and degrading, and I'm not going to allow that in my department — ever." — Walker Police Chief David Addison, about a twine noose hung in the station's squad room by a police sergeant, who claimed it was a "joke." The joker was suspended and then resigned.
No gumbo for you!
State District Judge Mike Erwin was banned from Sammy's Grill in Baton Rouge after a patron accused him of using a racial slur in a dispute over a seat at the bar.
Oh, but we like you NOW. ...
"We believe he is the right choice for the position." — Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Peterson, finally endorsing Democrat Derrick Edwards for state treasurer after he was the top vote-getter in the primary. The party had not endorsed him before the primary. (Edwards lost the election to a Republican named ... uh ... um ... I'll have to get back to you on that. ...)
Easy to overlook
I'm sure something like this has happened to you: Two East Baton Rouge Housing Authority officials, Executive Director Richard Murray and Chief Operating Officer Malonie Bayham, were overpaid more than $52,000 and $22,000 respectively over two years. Both said they did not notice the extra pay.
Flooding, yes; taxes, no
"I'm at a loss. I thought this was something people would've wanted. It would've helped everybody's property." — Livingston Parish Councilman Jeff Ard, after residents east of Walker voted down the creation of a parishwide system of drainage districts. Thousands of home flooded in that area in August 2016. "Anti-tax sentiment" was blamed for the defeat.
Save the tiger
"Times change; public perception changes." — LSU veterinarian David Baker, about why the new Mike VII tiger mascot would not be brought into Tiger Stadium for football games
Stuff the tiger
"From our perspective, stuffing Tony and putting him up in the truck stop is disrespectful." — Matthew Liebman, of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, about Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin's plans for Tony, the tiger who died after 17 years in a cage there
And in sports news. ...
"They don't make anything sporting for you in this city anymore." — Chris Lane, of New Orleans Citizens for Fair Parking, about the police scanning parked cars for expired brake tags
Speaking of sports, New Orleans mayoral candidate Johnese Smith proposed replacing New Orleans police officers with a fleet of "gladiators" who would be trained and battle-tested at the lakefront.
Fighting words, Part II
Baton Rouge personal injury lawyers E. Eric Guirard and Gordon McKernan spent much of 2017 in a legal battle over the ownership of slogans — "E Guarantee" and "G Guarantee" respectively. Most Baton Rougeans watching the ongoing conflict seemed to favor having them decide the issue with a duel at sunrise on the levee.
"We're trying to ease people into the idea of ordering something besides crab." — chef Brian Larson, of Clancy's Restaurant in New Orleans, about a 30-day closure of blue crab fisheries early in 2017, to help the crab population
That pesky Darwin!
A plan to overhaul science standards in Louisiana public schools won tentative state approval despite protests that it supported the theory of evolution.
"I was even thinking about asking the council if they want to name it Alligator Beach, so people who are really concerned about that can stay away." — Mandeville Mayor Donald Villere, after the first visitor to Mandeville's new beach on Lake Pontchartrain was an alligator
"I'm always amazed at the topics that come up here that are controversial." — state Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Central, after the House spent more than a half-hour debating whether students could bring sunscreen to school
Billy Sherman: A nice guy
"I've always thought that Sherman never got his due here. He really liked it here, and he was really well-liked." — James Carville, on his campaign to rename the LSU Parade Ground for Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, the university's first president
What? I can't hear you!
"I have no problem with the noise. We're all used to it." — Nancy S. Hebert, at a public meeting on a proposal by Plaquemine Mayor Ed Reeves for a designated "quiet zone" to ban train horns, etc.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand retired and joined New Orleans' WWL radio as a talk-show host.